Native Corporations are Big Players in Alaska Tourism

Many visitors to Alaska are interested in its unique cultural makeup, and choose tours or destinations that spotlight Alaska Native culture. What is lesser known is the fact that some Alaska Native corporations – formed in 1971 when the state settled its land claims with its indigenous people – have developed tourism products in the more conventional forms. Day cruises, hotels, motor coach tours, rental cabins, RV parks, car rentals and salmon bakes are just some of the tourism businesses owned by Alaska Natives.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which formed 13 regional corporations to settle aboriginal land claims of Alaska Native people. The ANCSA legislation marked a major departure from the reservation system of American Indians in the Continental United States by providing conveyance of land the seed capital to Native for-profit corporations representing various regions of the state. Every Alaska Native born on or before 1971 received 100 shares of their respective regional corporation’s stock, and each of these corporations then invested in various business enterprises to provide dividends to its Alaska Native shareholders. It was the first settlement of its kind between Native Americans and the federal government: Alaska Natives were provided a corporate structure for holding land and capital, with the freedom to control their own economic and social future.

Today, these corporations have investments all over the United States. Tourism is a prominent part of many of these corporations’ profiles.